Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Business Cycles?

In my radio station life, we have ups and downs that are predictable, as far as advertising revenue is concerned.

Most businesses have cycles that are predictable but what it the reason for those ups and downs?

Is the pattern breakable?

Is it worth trying?

Granted, some businesses like the slow months, that's when they take 3 day weekends, or vacations, but what if you could increase the revenue during those slow times?

Restaurants are typically slower on Monday and Tuesday and pick up as they get closer to the weekends and paydays. Is there something different you can create that your customers and clients will pay you for during the slow times?

By the way, I believe the reason that advertising sales is slower in the 1st quarter is due to the activities of the advertising sales people, not the businesses we serve. We are often so busy in October and November taking care of the December rush, that our prospecting falls off and we start the new year from scratch.

This year for me is different than 2010. Yes there was a drop in January, but it only took 3 weeks instead of 9 to be back up to speed.

Your thoughts are always welcome..

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Systems for Success

Each of us has a system for doing the things we do. These systems include your morning wake up routine and the various systems we have in place for our work activities.

If the systems and routines we are using in our personal life need tweaking, we often do so without much thought. Setting the alarm 5 minutes earlier, driving a different way to work, all pretty simple.

But what I see a lot of resistance to is changing work related systems.

The bigger the company, the more resistance is pretty common. Too many people involved including the "nay-sayers" who say no to everything; the "Don't fix it until it's broken" group who still use AOL; and the other extremes... the ones who want to throw everything out that we are doing and start from scratch, and those that always want to "wing it".

Each of us are responsible for our own systems, if you work for a big company, and you find a way that conforms to their standards, but also helps you to do your job better, Go For It!

The past few years I have set up a few systems and am in the process of setting up even more in the social media world that I live part of my life in.

When I was the V-P of Communication for the Fort Wayne Advertising Federation, I would create an email that was sent to members and interested parties. I had a couple of templates that I would customize for each month, and then modify slightly as we got closer to the event we were inviting people to attend. The email service provider allowed us to both personalize the invites and schedule when the invites were being delivered.

I post between 35 and 50 blog posts a week. This blog you are reading is updated at least once a week on Tuesdays. Three other blogs get a total of 6 to 7 updates a day! And there is only one way to accomplish this, and that is with a system.

My System is a form of automation. But it requires a personal, hands on touch too.

I can write posts and schedule them to appear online in the future. Currently I have some scheduled for February 2012, which would be really freaky if something tragic were to happen and I met an early demise before they all post!

I usually have between 20 and 120 blog posts scheduled and they will automatically appear online when I have scheduled them.

I could set up an auto-Tweet or auto-post-to-Facebook, or auto-post-to-LinkedIn.

But I don't want those automated. Instead I want those to be personalized for each of those services, to promote the blog postings in a more conversational manner. And do to the fact that I'm not online when every new post appears on my blog, I may promote it a few hours after it is published.

I urge you to automate when you can, but beware of being too impersonal.

I also urge you to review what works, and what doesn't. You may be too close to your own situation and need someone without an insiders knowledge to challenge your thinking and challenge the status quo.

Are you ready for that?

If you are in the Fort Wayne Indiana area, contact me. If you are outside the area, I have contacts that I recommend. My email is Scott @ ScLoHo.net

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Everybody knows about my business...

and other lies you are telling yourself.

And your advertising rep.

Two stories about what happened last week.

Monday afternoon, the first day back from the New Year's Holiday, I get a phone call from the advertising agency that handles the Hoosier Lottery.

She wants to know if we can place one commercial per hour on my radio station that afternoon and Tuesday afternoon.

Any other traditional media would have been powerless to respond and get it done. Newspaper, TV, Billboards. Too late . It was even past our deadline at the radio station.

But... I was able to do it. Between 3pm and 7pm and then Tuesday between 6am and 7pm, we aired 1 commercial per hour.

What was so urgent? $355,000,000 MegaMillions jackpot, that's what.

Now some people think that a $355 Million dollar jackpot wouldn't need extra advertising, after all, doesn't everyone know about it?

Nope. The drawing was 11pm Tuesday night, and the Lottery folks and their advertising agencies were smart enough to know that they had a limited time to sell as many tickets as possible before the 10:45pm cut off and so they increased their advertising.

Tell more people, tell them over and over until the deadline and you sell more and more and make more and more $$$$$$$$$$$.

It was a real deadline, not an artificial deadline like some stores like to set "Sales ends soooon"!

That was Monday.

Tuesday night two people won the jackpot, so it starts over at a measly $12 million.

Something else happened on Tuesday. I met with the owner of a Tax Preparation business with 4 locations. She is neck and neck with anyone in town for the number of offices in our city. But there are at least 50 places in town that do tax prep, plus the online services.

She is not sure if she wants to advertise this year. After all, "..we're established, we have a good name, blah, blah, blah..."

Yes, but....

Everybody doesn't know about your business, or there wouldn't be 46 other competitors.

She, like the lottery, have a deadline in April. Nearly everyone has to file their taxes between now and then. And if they don't visit one of her 4 offices, then she lost their business until next year... or forever.

I'll be seeing her today and telling her this story and we'll see how smart of a business owner she really is.

Stay tuned....

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How I Define Marketing

Welcome to 2011!

From my desk in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on a cold snowy morning in December about 3 weeks ago, (unlike the warm, inviting picture I took on vacation last summer), I was reflecting on some recent conversations I had about the subjects of sales, advertising, social media, and coupons.

That's a lot of stuff, but there is a common thread and it is they all fall under the topic of Marketing when you use my definition:

"Marketing includes anything and everything that exposes you, your business, your service, your product to the marketplace of buyers, clients, customers, prospects, and influencers of all of the above."

Now, I realize that this is a much bigger box, than most people like to put "Marketing" into.

But, in this time we are living, we are exposed to more and more marketing messages than our parents, grandparents, or any previous generation.

"If there is a flat surface, we can slap an advertisement on it", is so old school these days.

20 years ago my Pepsi can had advertising on it for events like the State Fair. These days we have football players wearing pink in October to promote Breast Cancer Awareness.

But besides the advertising side, there are also your employees who create impressions on customers and potential customers by their behavior, by their appearance, and by their personality.

Think for a moment about the person who answers your phone. Is She/He pleasant, understandable, helpful? Or is answering the phone a job they hate and it was passed on to them on top of their other duties? (This example comes from the radio stations I work for that put the wrong person in charge of the phone for a couple weeks.)

In the weeks ahead in 2011, we'll touch on all of these areas of Marketing as I defined them.

And I have a few other resources for you to explore.

In 2005 I created the Collective Wisdom blog. It is updated 3 to 4 times daily with wisdom from lots of others on the subjects of Marketing, Media, Advertising and Sales. Click here to go there.

And over the weekend, I launched another blog with the focus on Social Media. It is updated weekdays at noon and we are just getting started with ScLoHo's Social Media Adventure. Click here to go there.

This blog that you are reading is updated every Tuesday.

Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.